October 25th, 2006

naked and ashamed

It's not like everything else about me doesn't also suck

As readers of this journal who pay attention to my every cranky utterance already know, I hate National Novel Writing Month. It's cutesy, it cheapens fiction, it results in the creation of more novels when what we need is less, it makes everyone think they can be a writer, and it so rarely produces writing of good quality that the entire exercise seems totally pointless.

Also I'm thinking of doing it this year.

Everything is fine! Get back to work!

Neo-conservatives don't like to talk much about money. Privately, of course, they love it; it's the raison d'etre behind all their public sentiment about security and culture. Get in office behind fags and immigrants and terror, and once you're there, lower the capital gains tax and repeal business regulations. But they're oddly averse to it in their everyday pronouncements, except for the occasional slag on Democrats who will raise your taxes. The real economic goals they follow -- enrich the rich and ignore the poor -- aren't going to get them enough votes. So they hardly ever talk about economics, which is odd, because they're supposed to be the economically conservative, rational, market-savvy, sensible party.

Town Hall columnists are especially egregious in this regard. The libertarian wing talks about money all the time, because they don't really care about winning votes; and the Wall Street Journal (aside from their editorial page) is pretty open about where their interests like. But the biggest talking heads know where the votes are: in culture war, security scares, and trashing the opposition. Hence, aside from Roger Schlesinger's downmarket mortgage talk, real discission of the economy is pretty scarce. Even Rich Lowry doesn't write about it as much as he used to, because he found himself in near-constant disagreement with the Bush administration's grotesque deficit spending. Today, though, the lights come out to shine!

First of all, Walter Williams (who tops himself by using the "Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying 'Williams!'" line not once, but twice) shows how easy it is to be a professor emeritus of economics: just use one incredibly facile analogy to make a completely unsupportable generalization about the economy.

Next up, Janice Crouse, PhD. (of the highly prestigious Beverly LaHaye Institute) has a doctoral degree, but oddly, none of her online biographies say where it's from or what it's in. I'm guessing from this column it's not economics:

Funny how CNN picks the weeks just before the election to feature Lou Dobbs leading official-looking town hall meetings somberly lamenting the “war on the middle class.” Of course, he is pushing his book by that title! No one seems to question such a far-fetched idea even though the Dow is at record highs

Which would be relevant if the majority of middle- and working-class people were invested in the Dow, but they aren't...

unemployment is near all-time lows

Which would be relevant if "more employment" was the same thing as "good jobs with decent salaries", but it doesn't...

gas prices are down about a dollar per gallon

Which would be relevant if the price of gas was what kept the middle class solvent, but it isn't...

and the time you have to wait to get a table at Outback Steak House seems longer every time you go there.

Which would be relevant if this wasn't the stupidest fucking thing I'd ever heard in my life, but it is. (Apparently, this isn't the first time Dr. Crouse has betrayed a slightly imperfect understanding of economics.)

Finally, professional asshole John Stossel tells us that getting health insurance from your employer is stupid.

Having my health care tied to my boss invites him to snoop into my private health issues

Or it would if that wasn't illegal. Also, do you know why John doesn't get his medical care from FOX? Because they pay him so much that he can afford a much better one than they offer. Maybe he should ask the people in the mailroom if they think getting health care through their employers is a dumb idea.

and if I change jobs, I lose coverage.

That's a bummer, all right. Obviously the solution is just to get your own health care, and then if you change jobs, your coverage won't be interrupted, assuming you're one of the small percentage of Americans well-off enough to afford health care when you're not working.

Employer-paid health insurance isn't free. It just means we get insurance instead of higher salaries.

Ha ha, RIGHT! Because if employers didn't have to pay health insurance, they would just raise everyone's salaries right away instead of just keeping the extra money! That's why jobs that don't offer health insurance always have such good salaries.

I'd rather have the cash and buy my own insurance.

Hey, John, try this: find out how much FOX pays per employee for their standard health care package. Then see if that amount will cover the monthly premium you pay on your private health care. If not, I invite you to eat a big turd.